Recently I was having a discussion with a friend about a difficult situation. As we chatted, I realized our inclination is to look for all the things that are wrong with a situation or the things that could go wrong in the future. I wondered, “What if we started by asking, ‘What’s the best thing that could come out of this?” I’m not suggesting we ignore the things that could go wrong; however, I’m suggesting we start from what might go right first.
As I write this post, the topic reminds me of reading I’ve done on the negativity bias. Simply put, we’ve evolved to focus on the negative things. Historically, the rustling in the bushes might have been a tiger and so approaching things from the negative helped us survive. Certainly, the desire to stay alive overruled any thinking about opportunity. Today we don’t need to worry about tigers in the bushes.
So how can we move towards the positive? One thing I do is to simply notice when I am heading towards the negative and ask myself, “What’s going on right now?” I look at what I’m making up about the situation and attempt to shift my thinking to a positive perspective. A second thing I do is to keep a list of my, “I really did that!” accomplishments handy as a reminder of what’s going right.
I believe with deliberate practice, we can become more aware of our habitual responses and start to shift from the negative to the positive. Are you willing to give it a try? Consider what might be possible for you if you begin from the positive. Consider how the people around you will benefit. Consider how much more happiness you will bring into the world.